NCS myth #5796: If you come NCS you will have to live on the economy in substandard conditions.
Not! Yes, you will have to live off base as an NCS family, but the options are far from substandard. After arriving at Osan, we stood in base lodging for a less than a week before finding a brand new furnished apartment.
Side note: Base lodging books up rather quickly, so if there isn’t any availability when you arrive, the lodging desk will have information on local hotels with taxis available.
It is counter-intuitive to try to find a place before arriving, because since Osan has such a high turnover rate, an apartment you see pictures of online a month prior may likely not be available when you arrive. No worries, options are plentiful.
In order to be able to live off base, the service member must have a signed exception to policy (ETP), stating they have approval to live off base versus in a dorm, or a letter of non-availability, showing there are no dorms available and they have been approved to live off base. From what I have heard, the dorms are filling quickly and they are sending many E-5 and up off base anyways, so this usually is not an issue.
*The only service members that cannot live off base are those in Security Forces. They are required to live on base. Families can still live off base, and the service member usually spends all day there and goes back to dorms before curfew.*
Next, the service member will have to attend the housing briefing on Osan. These are held everyday at 0800 at the housing office (building 600). There, you will receive a list of housing approved realtors and available, pre-inspected apartments/houses. There are literally multiple realtors all within five mintues of the front gate. My recommendation is to stop and see what a few of them have to offer, as they all have access to different available houses or villas. We saw mostly apartments, but also saw a couple of nice two story villas near the ROK gate. We chose a new apartment building close to the SED (the area directly outside of main gate) and literally have less than a five minute walk to the gate.
Your realtor will show you places that are within your OHA budget. You cannot pocket any excess OHA, but you will also receive a utility allowance that you can pocket after your bill is paid. If you are lucky enough to find a place with solar panels, you could potentially pocket most of it!
After you find a place, bring the paperwork your realtor gives you to the housing office the next day, and they will process it and have your BAH switched over to OHA. That’s it! Enjoy your new place 🙂